Things to Do | Visit Chiba | Latest update:2022/05/20
Although northwestern Chiba shares a border with Tokyo, the southern end of the prefecture sits a world apart from Tokyo’s metropolitan sprawl. With Tokyo Bay on one side, and the wide expanse of the Pacific on the other, it is here in the hills of the Boso Peninsula where visitors can experience true Japanese satoyama village culture. Adding to rural Chiba’s appeal is that this deep Japanese countryside is still just a short trip from Tokyo. Whether it is via a ferry or car ride across Tokyo Bay, or an express train from Tokyo Station, you can escape the city and find yourself immersed in the nature of the Boso Peninsula in just ninety minutes.
If you are looking to get off the beaten path on your next Tokyo trip and have some fun outdoors, Boso Adventure Tours is here to help. Kenji Setogawa, founder of Boso Adventure Tours, sets out to make the Boso area accessible to visitors from all over the world. Mr. Setogawa provides information for how to get to the nearest train station or highway bus terminal, and can even arrange for transportation to pick up tour participants and bring them to the tour destination.
We recently went down to southern Boso to take part in one of their tours. While they offer a wide range of experiences, from history and culture tours to mountain hikes, we decided for a bike adventure on their rental e-bike tour. The cycling tours are based out of the Heguri Hub, which Mr. Setogawa established in 2017 as a gathering place for the local community, tourists, and cycling clubs. We were met there not only by Mr. Setogawa, but also by Boso Adventure Tours’ nationally licensed English tour guide, Kaori Sasho.
Here is a summary of our adventure itinerary to help you get a sense of the experiences on offer with Boso Adventure Tours:
After greeting us at the Heguri Hub, Mr. Setogawa helped us get set up for our ride. In order to make the experience accessible to travelers, the Heguri Hub is stocked with rental bicycles and equipment for participants to use. For this tour we decided to rent their e-bikes. We were able to use the space at the hub to take a test drive of the bikes, get used their electronic functions, and make all the necessary adjustments. After that, Mr. Setwogawa explained to us the route he planned out for us. The itinerary for our tour included three stops, but your tour can be customized to include a variety of local destinations according to your group’s wishes.
To learn more about Heguri Hub’s guesthouse, solo-camping, co-working space, and Deli & Café, please click here: https://www.visitchiba.jp/spot/heguri-hub/
Mr. Setogawa guided us through about eight kilometers of rural Minamiboso until we arrived at a temple buried deep in the woods known as Sawayama Fudō-dō. Boso Adventure Tours’ guide Kaori Sasho had been following us by car, and as we stopped there, she joined us to explain about the location. Temples dedicated to Fudō Myōō, the “immovable” deity whose origins are a blend of indigenous religion and Esoteric Buddhism, can be found in villages throughout Japan. The depiction of the Fudō-sama’s fierce features serves as a stern warning to adherents to avoid impure acts. It is said that this Fudō-sama has been enshrined here possibly as far back as the Muromachi period (1336 – 1573).
The temple alter is adorned by carvings by Goto Yoshitaka, a famous artisan from the area who even has works displayed in Japan’s Diet parliament building. Next door to the temple is the Kajika Bridge, a wooden suspension bridge which hangs over a waterfall known as the Fudō Falls. The bridge gets its name from kajika frogs, which during their mating season are known for providing one of the emblematic ambient sounds of the Japanese countryside with their pleasant and persisting croaking.
With the assistance of the electric powered bikes, the next leg of our tour took us into the hills of the neighboring city of Kamogawa. One final climb took us to the Former Mizuta Family Residence, a registered Tangible Cultural Property of Japan. This home was the birthplace of Mikio Mizuta, an influential politician and statesman of post-war Japan, and founder of Josai University. Although many preserved houses in Japan have been relocated from their original properties, the Mizuta family house has been here since it was built in the late-Edo period over 150 years ago. This makes it possible to experience not only the beauty of the traditional architecture, but also get a feel for how the house fit within its surroundings as a living space for past generations.
Our guide Ms. Sasho－who by this point we started calling Kaori-sensei－shared her knowledge of the property with us. To name a few things: we learned how the reverence for nature and the four seasons influenced the layout of the gardens and the materials used to build the house; how markings on the walls represented the Chinese Zodiac; and how the era’s social hierarchy determined the house’s architectural layout. We were also given a tour of the house’s top floor to see how the pillars were arranged to maximize structural integrity, a design which helped the house survive events like the Great Kanto earthquake of 1923. While we were up on the top floor, we also got a close-up view of the steep thatched roof and learned how the residents used smoke from the stoves on the lower floors to protect the thatch from decay and rot.
The Ooi District of Minamiboso City is known as the birthplace of dairy farming in Japan, so although we had lunch waiting for us back at the Heguri Hub Deli & Café, our final stop on the tour was for a quick snack at the Mineoka Ikiiki Kan. The shop’s soft cream, one of the local favorites on offer here, provided us with a perfect excuse to make this final rest stop, capping off an adventurous day out on the Boso Peninsula!
224-3 Hegurinaka, Minamiboso City
(Ten minutes from the Kyonan-Tomiyama Interchange on the Tateyama Expressway, ten minutes by car from the “Highway Oasis Furari” highway bus stop, or fifteen minutes by car from JR Iwai Station.)